“When the economy is booming, almost any product is easy to sell; when the economy tightens you need to double down on your sales system to turn leads into sales.”
~ Chandell Labbozzetta
Over the past few months, there has been a dramatic shift in the perception of prospects I’ve been talking to – especially when you compare them with my clients’ perception of the market. A few months ago, many business owners and sales managers were confident in their ability to make ‘enough sales to meet income targets and quotas’. Now they’re struggling because their prospects are nervous about the future and their communication skills and sales systems aren’t robust enough to cope.
One of my clients made the following comment,
“When the GFC was looming in 2008 (it hit Australia later and less dramatically than other parts of the world) we saw exactly the same thing – making sales of your product or service went from being like offering candy to a toddler, to being more like offering meat to a vegan. It took a genuine ability to understand where the prospect stood and what they cared about, to communicate that understanding, and to offer your product in ways that made it easy for them to say ‘Yes’. Suddenly, sales skills and systems shifted from ‘nice to have’ to ‘critical for survival. The same thing is starting to happen now and it’s slowly spreading from one industry to another. It’s time to brush up on your sales systems and skills… Or pay the price.”
We went on to discuss the fact that it’s not the economy per se that is the problem, it’s how you present your offer in the new climate.
If you keep on doing what you’ve always done in your sales process you will no longer get what you’ve always got… You’ll keep getting fewer sales and less revenue.
Sally (name changed to protect her privacy) has been in one of my NLP Sales Mastery groups for several years. She’s one of the sales managers at a mid-sized company and she’s chosen to invest in her communication skills so she can also pass them onto her team. Until just a couple of months ago, there was very little difference in the performance of her team and others, but as the economy started to tighten, she discovered that she was closing significantly more sales than her team, and that her team was performing better than all the others. Her colleagues were coming to her and asking what she was doing and whether she could help them develop the same skills and systems.
That’s great for me, because I was contracted to train and develop all the sales teams at her company, but it also demonstrates how the economy is changing and the importance of being prepared for a downturn.
The key reason that my sales trainings are so popular is that they are effective. I really can turn the sales-allergic into sales-enthusiastic because I focus on communication skills. Most people who have an ‘icky feeling’ about sales have that feeling because they think of sales as one person pushing the other into an agreement they don’t really need. I teach people to walk away from sales where your product won’t benefit the prospective buyer and won’t deliver far more value than the money they are paying. You’d think that would lead to fewer sales and appointments, but it actually leads to more sales.
Effective salesmanship was never about shoving a contract in front of someone and forcing them to sign, it was always about discovering what problem the prospect wants to solve and determining whether your solution fits their needs and budget. When the economy is good and interest rates are low, businesses spend freely so you don’t really need to develop rapport and communicate with sincerity, but when interest rates rise those things make all the difference. It doesn’t matter how good your sales scripts are, or how well designed your follow up is if your salespeople can’t establish a genuine connection.
By the same token, it doesn’t matter how good their communication skills are if your salespeople aren’t supported by robust sales systems that enhance their results. I’m a big believer in continued professional development that focuses on expanding personal skills, not merely providing ‘hacks and techniques’ and communication is one of those areas of personal growth that many sales teams don’t focus on… or not until they absolutely must!
“A sales system is only as good as the people who use it… But without good systems, skilled people can underperform.”
That truth is just as applicable to sales as it is to exercise, nutrition, health interventions, and education.
If you don’t have a system for taking care of your health, you’ll quickly lose track of essential medications, dietary needs, exercise, and other important factors. If there’s no system for education (ie curriculum), kids won’t learn to read, write, count, and think.
At the same time, if you don’t have skilled doctors and inspiring teachers, the ‘system’ will only take you so far.
Your sales system is just as essential as those other things, yet too many companies are asking their sales team to fly by the seat of their pants and at best have just a few parts of a system in place. Many of them are then surprised to find that even their star salespeople struggle with morale and performance when the economy tightens.
A sales system is vital if you want to keep your revenues growing and your sales team motivated.
Many sales systems focus on techniques that are outdated or offer a structured approach that is transient and non-transferable. I’ve attended some sales training where you can’t even use the material you learned in a different department of the same organisation. My sales training focuses on human performance skills and the systemic elements that drive that performance. When I train inside an organisation, obviously we develop systems that are specific to that organisation or department and focus on the specific value-building and context of the product, but I also teach the principles that can be applied in any sales team.
I also periodically teach a sales system design workshop that walks participants through the elements of a sales system and shows how to build one and the crucial principles and skills that your sales team need to develop.
If you’d like to learn more then why not register for our next sales system workshop?
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